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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

What Precautions Should I Take When Cleaning Fire Damaged Surfaces?

5/21/2020 (Permalink)

Call our experts after you experience a fire disaster, we have training in fire & smoke restoration, odor control, upholstery & fabric cleaning.

Engaging SERVPRO Fire and Smoke Restoration Technicians Eliminates the Headache of Making Choices during Fire Damage Restoration in Mecklenburg County

It is common for fires in Mecklenburg County to leave surfaces such as floors, walls, and ceilings covered in soils such as soot, tar, and other residues. The water or other chemicals used to quell the flames also cause some form of soiling. The most inexpensive way to deal with the soiling is by cleaning since refinishing or resurfacing is more expensive. Despite its usefulness, cleaning can cause problems if not done correctly.

Can I clean unsealed wood after fire damage incidents in Mecklenburg County?

Although unsealed wood is not likely to be a predominant material in many items or surfaces in your house, there are a few pieces somewhere within the structure such as:

  • Cabinet interiors
  • Structural supports
  • Paneling

Cleaning residues or soils from surfaces with unsealed wood can present some unique challenges. For instance, raw wood absorbs and holds most solutions, so it is easy to stain the surface permanently while trying to clean it up. If the surface is only soiled lightly, the best approach is to clean it without using solutions. For example, wiping with Dry Cleaning Sponges helps. Wet cleaning is essential in case of heavy soiling. To negate the possibility of driving residues deep into the material, our SERVPRO technicians use denatured alcohol to facilitate safe wet cleaning. 

Do plastered surfaces present any cleaning challenges?

Plaster is a common material used in walls or ceilings, which also happen to be the common areas where smoke residues collect during fires. The accumulation of residues occurs because the increase in temperatures inside the building also increases air pressure, thus forcing smoke against the surfaces where it deposits residues. 

Since there are different variations of plaster, the cleaning challenges you face might depend on what type you have on the surfaces that you intend to clean. Common types of plaster include:

  • Stipple plaster
  • Sprayed-on acoustic plaster
  • Swirled textures

Wet cleaning such areas is not a good idea since water-based cleaning products are likely to dissolve the material. Sprayed-on acoustic plaster is the most vulnerable and the slightest contact can chip it off. Our technicians use distinct approaches to clean such areas without causing unnecessary damages. For example, we can use a vacuum to remove soot from the plastered surface.  We use the nozzle attachment and hold it around one inch away from the wall when cleaning to eliminate the chances of smearing. 

How hard is it to clean masonry?

Despite your best effort, you might not manage to remove all residues from masonry surfaces. This might sound unusual considering the surfaces are resilient, thus enabling the use of many cleaning approaches and products.  

Masonry refers to many products, including:

  • Marble
  • Slate
  • Cinder block
  • Concrete

The main problem with masonry materials is their porous nature that allows residues to penetrate beyond the surface and odor retention. However, if the material has a sealer coat applied before the fire, it eliminates the challenge. Sealers are more common in floors than walls. Our SERVPRO technicians inspect the level of soiling in masonry surfaces and perform some tests to determine which method is likely to bear fruit. Some of the common methods we use include:

  • Wet cleaning with alkaline cleaners
  • Wet cleaning with a strong acid
  • Abrasion blasting
  • Dry cleaning

Why is it necessary to test before cleaning masonry surfaces?

The porous nature of masonry that allows penetration of residues also allows the absorption of cleaning solutions. Sometimes, the cleaning product reacts with the material reading to color change. Therefore, you might end up with stains, even when cleaning is successful.  Pre-testing a cleaning solution in an inconspicuous section of the soiled surface helps reveal the color changes before you clean all areas. 

When using alkaline cleaners, our SERVPRO technicians consider the level of soiling to determine the concentration levels. We apply the solution generously with a bucket or pump up sprayer to ensure the surface remains wet during dwell-time.  Agitation is also necessary, so we brush or scrub the area thoroughly before rinsing off the cleaning solution. For proper rinsing, we prefer hosing the area or using a pressure washer. With masonry, the true effects of the cleaning process are only apparent once the area dries fully. Our technicians help quicken drying by setting up air movers to improve air movements. 

Taking precautions helps improve the outcome when restoring fire damage. You can be confident you are taking the right approaches by involving an experienced teat like SERVPRO of North Central Mecklenburg County. Call us at (704) 596-9700 to help make any loss, "Like it never even happened."

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